by Francesco Giordana

10 February 2017

MPC Green Room: Meet Francesco

MPC has a rich history of technical innovation. It’s the partnership of leading creativity and technology that delivers spectacular results. As a company MPC is committed to technology in service of creativity and are constantly exploring new approaches to deliver higher quality.

Joining the team to help keep pushing the boundaries forward is Francesco Giordana who arrives with a wealth of experience at companies like ILM, Double Negative and Guerilla Games. He took a break from his busy schedule to share some thoughts on the future of VFX as well as his career to date.


What is your name, job title and how long have you been at MPC?

Hi, my name is Francesco Giordana, I joined MPC just before Christmas as a Realtime Tech Lead. My role is to lead the development of realtime technologies to enable virtual production and to improve the quality of real time previews in our traditional VFX pipeline.

What and where did you study?

I have a MSc in Computer Science and I graduated from the University of Turin in Italy. I specialised in Virtual Reality and Multimedia.

How did you get started in VFX?

I started 15 years ago in a small lab in Italy where we were experimenting with VR and interactive applications. The hardware that we had back then was completely different from what is available now, that’s why I had to wait for so long before getting to work on VR again.

A few years later I then moved to games in Amsterdam, working for Guerrilla Games on the Killzone franchise, and then eventually managed to move onto VFX for film.

My first role in VFX was at Double Negative, where I wrote a new fur system and then led an R&D team dedicated to digital creatures, after which I moved to ILM to focus on realtime performance capture and then finally I’m here!

What piece of advice would you give someone looking to get into the industry

Many people find it very hard to take the first step, the fear of rejection can be very strong. My advice is to try to learn as much as possible, choose one specific discipline to master (for example rendering, animation, etc), but also be flexible enough so that you can change your route when needed. Then don’t be shy and get out there, apply, make sure you have something to show, even if it’s just personal projects.

How did you find the transition from games to film VFX?

It was quite smooth really, there are many differences in workflows and targets, but there are huge overlaps. Having a mixed background definitely helps you to look at challenges from different angles and potentially find unique solutions.

What excites you most about your job at MPC?

We’re putting together brand new technology, it is very rare that you get a chance to really innovate!

Can you share any inside info on any exciting projects you are working on?

We are currently working on Virtual Production techniques, using VR for set pre-visualisation. That means that you have a bunch of directors and their staff running around with funny helmets strapped to their heads, but it’ really exciting: we are creating for them a brand new way of making films. This is where most of our efforts are concentrated right now, but we would like to use similar technologies to improve the quality of viewport rendering in all of our DCCs.

What’s your favourite shot that you’ve worked on in your career?

It’s a shot from the film Hercules (above), it’s a silly film but that shot holds a particular meaning to me. It’s the shot in which a photorealistic lion jumps from a rock to fight the hero. That was the first time that we used our new fur system on a high quality photoreal creature. It was a challenging shot and finally seeing the fur come to life in such a spectacular creature was the most rewarding gift.

What’s your favourite VFX movie?

The old Jurassic Park, it’s the movie that inspired me to work in this industry. I was 13 at the time and I didn’t have the faintest idea of what I would have done with my adult life, but the seed was planted.

How would you describe the culture at MPC?

There is a very good friendly atmosphere. Everybody has been very helpful from day one and there is a lot of talent in the company.

How would you describe your team?

It’s young, skilled and enthusiastic. We’re only a small team at the moment, but hopefully we will grow when this technology will be adopted more and more.

Which 3 words best describe your job?

Innovation, technology, speed.

What major developments in technology do you see in VFX over the next 5 /10 years?

Realtime technology will play a bigger and bigger role, especially since new media formats are emerging and there is more and more need for interactive content. It will both improve the workflow for film production and also tighten the relationship between film and interactive media.

Machine Learning already has made an appearance and I believe it will play a key role in creating more efficient and automatic workflows.

What do you think are the biggest challenges in your role?

Making the right choices! We are trying to predict which elements will have the biggest impact a few years down the line and pick our technologies accordingly. If we make a mistake we might end up wasting a lot of development power and in the end fall behind.

What inspires you?

Art and science in general. I love going to the cinema or events, or reading up on the most recent discoveries. We are spoiled these days, almost everyday there is something new to read up on, I only feel I don’t have enough time to try everything I would like to.

How would you describe your approach to work?

I’d like to think that I’m a practical person. I usually prefer to do stuff rather than talk a lot about it. With the years I had to gradually pull back a bit and start planning and presenting better, specially since I started leading a team, hopefully I have found a reasonable balance by now.

What does it feel like to work as part of a Global team at MPC?

It’s great! You have colleagues from all sorts of different cultures and a very diverse set of skills. It also offers a good excuse to travel more.